Grass is greener on New Malton’s side

A PIONEERING Crow Country golf club is using all its drive to give a whole new meaning to the term greenkeeping.

New Malton Golf Club in Meldreth, which The Crow reported last month was the first golf club in the country to offer specialist membership to disabled people, has now completed one year of running a completely organic club.

It does not use any chemicals, grass preservatives or pesticides to maintain its course, which also preserves its thriving wildlife.

Course director Paul Stevenson said: “We (he and three other directors), purchased the golf course 12 months ago with the intentions of challenging the preconceptions of how a golf course should be run, and we have just completed a year of chemical free golf.

“We use biology to make the grass healthier and if it’s healthier it is better at resisting disease.

“No other course in the country has gone through a whole year without using chemicals and we have discovered it can be done. This could turn greenkeeping on its head.”

Mr Stevenson revealed there were three primary motives for the ambitious project, which he says is easier than running a non-chemical free course.

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“The first reason is the danger to the players. You need to be qualified to use chemicals on the course and need to wear a body suit to administer it, but once its been sprayed it can be walked on straight away, which doesn’t make sense.

“Secondly, golf is being squeezed financially and the price of maintaining courses chemically is going up.

“Thirdly, we don’t want to destroy the insect and nature life. We need a healthy food chain for that. For example, we have a stout that lives on the course, and if it were to run on a green with chemicals on it, then lick its paws, it would die.”

In fact, the courses’ wildlife has become popular with members, and provides an added benefit to a relaxing game.

“Most golf clubs are quite sterile of wildlife if you spray them regularly. We have a full time ecologist here who helps maintain the conditions for stouts, weasels, hares, birds and an otter. It’s a wildlife haven.”

Even though a lot of work is invested in maintaining the course, Stevenson claims it does not adversely affect its quality.

“We are never going to hold the British open, but our greens are more than acceptable for the average club player in the country. People get obsessed with greens that they might have at St Andrews but they don’t need to.”

The course also has an ambitious future, and hope to be self sufficient for food within five years, meaning it will have to graze its own animals, along with the vegetables it already grows themselves.

The Independent wrote about the course in an article on August 29, while Mr Stevenson has been approached by BBC’s The One Show to record a feature there.